Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Louisville Cardinals Pick 12/10/19
Texas Tech Red Raiders (5-3 SU, 4-4 ATS) vs. Louisville Cardinals (9-0 SU, 5-4 ATS)
When: Tuesday, December 10, at 7 p.m.
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York
Point Spread: TTU +7/UL -7 (Best Basketball Lines)
Total: O/U 130
Last Time Out:
Texas Tech lost 65-60 to DePaul in overtime on Wednesday; Louisville beat Pittsburgh 64-46 on Friday.
Scouting the Red Raiders:
It turns out Chris Beard can’t lose four starters and still have a top-flight team as if nothing had happened. The Red Raiders haven’t fallen to the scrap heap by any means, but they’ve now lost three straight after falling to Iowa, Creighton, and DePaul. None of those are bad losses, but all are the kind of games that Texas Tech would have won last season.
This Texas Tech team is a work in progress. The Red Raiders are still an outstanding defensive squad, but their offense doesn’t have much it can count on outside of freshman Jahmi’us Ramsey and junior Davide Moretti. That proved a problem in the DePaul game because the Red Raiders had to play without Ramsey and couldn’t find enough scoring to make their defensive work stand up. Fellow freshman Terrence Shannon stepped up beautifully with 24 points against the Blue Demons, but there’s no guarantee that the Red Raiders can count on that, as Shannon scored a combined 17 points in the losses to Iowa and Creighton. For Texas Tech to win, it’s going to have to rely on a great defense to do the job.
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Scouting the Cardinals:
As Jordan Nwora goes, so go the Cardinals on offense. Nwora has been the main man for Louisville no matter who the opponent is, which has allowed the Cardinals to get through several tough tests. Last week was the big one against Michigan, and Louisville managed to survive getting held to 58 in points because of tough defense and because Nwora scored 22 points. What’s made Nwora so important to the Cardinals is how consistent he’s been this season. He’s averaging 21 points a game, and his lowest total of the season was 17 against North Carolina Central, and that only because he played just 20 minutes in a blowout.
Beyond Nwora, the Cardinals win with defense and rebounding. Dwayne Sutton is one of four Cardinals who average at least six rebounds per game, and Louisville has held seven of its past eight opponents under 60 points, something, not even Texas Tech’s defense can match.
The big stage. Madison Square Garden is just a different place to play as the World’s Most Famous Arena in New York, and playing in the Jimmy V Classic is always a big deal because of how much Jim Valvano meant and still means to college basketball. Texas Tech obviously played on the big stage last season when it met Virginia for the national championship, but only Moretti was a serious part of the game last season. Louisville hasn’t faced a stage quite like this one this year, but the Cardinals did face a huge game on their home floor. Whether that Michigan experience translates will decide if the Cardinals play to their potential.
Texas Tech will Cover if:
The Red Raiders can get to the free-throw line. Louisville plays aggressive defense just like Texas Tech does, and one of the problems with playing aggressive defense is that if the refs choose to call it tight, you could end up racking up fouls. Texas Tech is an excellent free-throw shooting team, and its best chance is to score points when the Cardinals can’t play any defense on them. The Red Raiders have to drive and get to the stripe.
Louisville will Cover if:
The Cardinals can take advantage of the Red Raiders’ inexperience with ball handling. Texas Tech had some serious problems with ball handling in the loss to DePaul, coughing up the ball 22 times to land in overtime, and eventually take a loss in Chicago. Louisville’s defense-first approach should play well against a team that doesn’t handle the ball well, and if the Cardinals can get easy baskets, this won’t be close.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:
Here’s the dirty little secret about Texas Tech: The Red Raiders aren’t that good this season. They’re going to figure things out eventually, be competitive in the Big 12 and probably get an eight or nine seed in the NCAA tournament, but they’ve got some work to do to get to that level. Yet the public is still thinking of this team as the national runner-up and the team that won 58 games in the past two seasons.
The players who made that team special are no longer in Lubbock. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have established themselves as a legitimate Final Four contender this season. This game is the kind I’d expect to see in the second round in March this year, and I don’t think the Red Raiders will be able to keep this in single digits. Give me the Cardinals.